This is how it begins. For little-known candidates hoping to become president one day, they start with small groups in Iowa or New Hampshire.
They meet in a restaurant or a living room and talk about the issues of the day: Taxes, health care, jobs.
They tell people a little about themselves and where they think the country ought to go.
In Davenport, on Saturday, it was Rep. John Delaney’s turn.
The Maryland Democrat is the first person to declare that he’s running for president in 2020. And at the Hickory Gardens restaurant, he kicked off his fifth trip to Iowa with his first stop in the Quad-Cities.
Over about 90 minutes, Delaney said the tax bill the U.S. Senate passed in the early hours of Saturday is unnecessary to incentivize capital investment and will foist large costs onto young people, that the country’s political divisions have blocked solutions to real problems, and that globalism has been unfairly vilified even as large swaths of the country have been hurt by the failure to “up-skill” workers in a technology-driven economy.
There needs to be a new way of delivering health care, too, he said.
With more than two years to go before the 2020 Iowa caucuses, Delaney has the field to himself, though that won’t hold for too long. A lengthy list of Democrats are thought to be interested in running for president, many of them with more media cache and name recognition.
But, as Delaney put it before departing Saturday, that’s why he’s here so early.
The three-term congressman said little about President Donald Trump on Saturday, telling one couple that Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year focused on making the case Trump wasn’t fit for the office.
“People expect more,” he added. "They want to know what we’re going to do."
On health care, Delaney steered clear of a single payer system, which he said would stifle innovation, but proposed greater access to government health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid while still leaving open the option for Americans to purchase private insurance with assistance if they wished. The government also would not provide the kind of subsidies for employer-based insurance that it does today.
At first, there were only about a half dozen people on hand but that doubled to a little more than a dozen as the session went on.
Sheila Winter, of Davenport, was one of the first to arrive. The 63-year-old woman, who said she has had three heart attacks and is worried her medical expenses will rise because of changes in the new Republican tax bill, said that she likes what she heard.
“He was very, very direct. Right to the point,” she said, adding she intends to support Delaney.
Before the event, Delaney predicted the Republican tax bill will eventually become law. But he said it is premised on helping private investment when it’s not needed and what actually is important is public investment in things like infrastructure.
He added it also will increase the debt, something he said Democrats need to spend more time emphasizing.
“This bill is taking a very bad situation and making it worse. So, if I was a young American I would be furious,” he said.
Delaney was making a series of stops in Iowa over the weekend. He also was in Muscatine on Saturday.